Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What's the opposite of man....JAM!

"Do you remember when you were little and your mom would drop you off at the movies with a jar of jam and a spoon?" -Joe

This post is dedicated to my college roomies :) As most people know, I am obsessed with Friends...I literally watch it every night while eating dinner and I can quote every episode. There isn't a situation in life that can't relate to an episode of Friends. And my college roomies are about the only people I know who share that obsession! So in season three there is The One with the Jam, and I felt like I was in that episode this weekend.

My dad and I (with a little help from my mom) made blackberry jam on Sunday. It was our first attempt at jam and I have to say it was a huge success! We had some old berries frozen from 2008 that needed to be used or thrown out, and since I'm not one to waste good food we decided to see how they tasted in the jam. I was worried they wouldn't be good since they were old but it didn't seem to matter. We used the recipe in the 'jelly powder stuff' box (I don't know what it's really called). It was very easy to make and delicious! We're making more soon!

Also this weekend I got to see my BFF, Dana and her family. My mom and I judged their county fair's baby contest....crazy! Lots of cute babies and it was very hard to pick winners! I also got to see my favorite little boy! Here's a picture of him in one of his birthday presents I got him:

If that doesn't make you smile, I don't know what will :)

"You're so pretty." -Rachel

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ooh La La

I made a French dessert last night that was absolutely delicious! I found the recipe on a blog I follow, Confabulation in the Kitchen (http://shallwecook.blogspot.com/2010/07/berry-cherry-clafoutis.html). It's called Berry Cherry Clafoutis. Both the berries I used were freshly picked by me and my dad! The original recipe is on that blog but here is the recipe with my changes:

1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh blackberries
3 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup sifted, all-purpose flour
1 cup skim milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9-inch, round baking dish with nonstick spray, then toss in blueberries and blackberries.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, flour and salt until well-combined.
3. Add milk, vanilla, and almond extract to egg mixture and whisk well. Pour wet ingredients over fruit.

4. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until dessert puffs and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Center will deflate as the dish cools on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

It has a great custard texture and the almond extract gives it great flavor! Plus the berries were so juicy when eaten warm! I will definitely be making this again and again!

Okay, it's also time for another quote of the day from my mom! This weekend we were showing the garden to some friends. My mom was pointing out one of our tomato plants, which has odd shaped fruit growing on it. She told our guests that she thinks the plant has a "generic disorder." Um, mom...I think you mean genetic! :)

Also, here's a few pictures of what I saw hanging out on my front porch when I left for work this morning:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

I truly felt like a farmer this weekend, and I'm pretty sure I deserve a day off after this weekend (my dad does too!). We worked, weeded, harvested, planted, canned, and froze....all in about 48 hours!

I had the day off on Friday so I cleaned the house, did some laundry, did some yard work, and prepped for a cookout I had at my house that night.

Not giving myself any break, I got up early on Saturday morning and picked more blueberries. Yep, I still want more! This is either the fourth or fifth weekend I've gone to pick and I couldn't be happier! After blueberry heaven, me, dad, aunt Mary, mom, and my sister-in-law did some serious garden work. We picked all the early green beans and the first round of "late" green beans. We weeded the entire garden and picked squash, tomatoes, one banana pepper (our peppers are struggling this year!), and anything else we could fine. Then dad and I got seeds for our fall garden. We planted red lettuce, romaine lettuce, and cabbage in trays. We will transplant them into our raised garden later. We also planted onions, leeks, and multi-colored carrots in the raised garden. Finally, we took a much needed break and went swimming at our family's pond!

Sunday morning we were up and at it again, EARLY! We planted more of the fall garden. We did some fall crops last year but this year we're trying a lot of stuff! We tilled up the old potato and bean plants to make room (don't worry, we harvested it all first!). We planted sugar snap peas, more green beans :(, lima beans, corn, yellow squash, zucchini, acorn squash, and butternut squash. We're also hoping to try red potatoes but we need to find eyes to plant. Oh, and somewhere during all this my dad and I picked a bucket of black berries from the neighbor's bushes. Finally, we canned the green beans we picked the day before. We did 13 cans!

Not bad for a weekend's work! Unfortunately I was too busy working to take pictures. Just imagine tired, sweaty, dirty people running around like crazy...that's what the pictures would look like :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Beans, Beans the musical fruit....

So it's green bean season....yippee (and for those of you who know me, you know that was said with pure sarcasm!). This weekend we spent all day Sunday picking, popping, and canning beans. Now I enjoy green beans from a can (home canned preferably but store bought are good too) but I hate fresh green beans. I know I'm weird! I think they taste nasty, they're a pain to pick, and then you have to spend all that time popping the ends off. I need to hire someone to work in the fields for this crop!

Anyways, our green beans are always our biggest crop, and they provide us with a lot of fresh produce during the winter. So even though I have a love-HATE relationship with these things, I do truly appreciate them!

Here's what we do:

After eating green beans every night for weeks, we can all the rest. This Sunday we canned 14 quarts, 8 pints, and still have a 5 gallon bucket to deal with. OH, and we probably have just as many, if not more, ready to be picked...AGAIN!

First, pick the beans. Notice that my mom is helping again but she has a nice chair to sit on. I bet her back and legs haven't been killing her all week!

After snapping the ends off and picking out the bad beans, its time to clean them off.

You also need to make sure the jars and lids are good and clean. Then put the beans into the jars. Last year we did some jars with whole beans in them but decided we like them better when they're broken in half because you can fit more in the jar, but it's completely personal preference. After the jars are stuffed, fill them with boiling water and add a pinch of salt.

We use a pressure cooker to can our produce. It works a little faster than other methods. But whatever method you use, make sure you read the directions! Our pressure cooker had us cook the beans for 25 minutes after the right pressure was reached.

Once they're done, the beans will come out a darker green. You'll hear a popping noise from each can as it cools letting you know it's sealed properly.

The cans on the left are done (darker green) and the one on the right hasn't been in the pressure cooker yet (brighter green)

Now we'll do it all over again this coming weekend!

Oh, and we had our first tomatoes this week. I ate them before I could take a picture...yum!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Kiss Me Green

I found a new favorite chap stick today! I actually found it sitting at my parent's house and stole it! They'll never notice it's gone!

It's called Kiss Me Green (http://www.growkids.org/p-47-kiss-me-green-lip-balm-3-pack.aspx) and it's organic. I have the honey almondy flavor. It smells nice, has a little shimmer, and seems to work really well. Plus when I googled the company I found out it's " earth friendly fundraising is dedicated to promoting products that students, parents, teachers and your community will be proud to support". Sounds good to me!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Happy Birthday America!

Happy (late) Fourth of July!

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday! I had a nice 4-day weekend which I spent playing outside and relaxing with family and friends. On the Forth, we went to a cookout with some friends who were in town for the weekend. I decided to make a yummy, light, patriotic treat. I saw this idea online somewhere and thought it would be perfect....Red, White, and Blue Strawberries

First you need to clean and dry your strawberries (if they're wet, the chocolate won't stick correctly).

Then you need to melt your white chocolate. I used little baking chips and melted them in a bowl in the microwave. Make sure you stop every 20-30 seconds to stir the chocolate. Also, make sure you don't over cook it!

Next, dip the strawberries into the chocolate so that it covers 2/3 of the berry. Then let some of the excess chocolate drip off (or if you're impatient like me, you can scrape some of it off with a spoon...too much chocolate makes the sprinkles look weird). After you've dipped the strawberries in chocolate, dip the bottom 1/3 in blue sanding sugar.

Finally, let the strawberries dry on foil and then ENJOY! I would recommend making these the same day that you plan to serve them. Since the strawberries sweat, the blue sugar starts to run and can cause a mess...although their still good!

And as a side note, here's a picture of my Aunt Mary and my dad picking transparent apples at a friends house. My Aunt Mary was complaining because there were no pictures of her on here...now there is! She made some delicious applesauce with these apples!